Mil­burn Stone Theatre to get sound up­grade

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com By JES­SICA IANNETTA

NORTH EAST — One of the most fre­quent crit­i­cisms the Mil­burn Stone Theatre re­ceives about its shows is the poor sound qual­ity. But that will soon change.

About six months af­ter launch­ing a cam­paign to up­date its sound sys­tem, the the­ater’s 25-year-old sound sys­tem will be re­placed this sum­mer.

At its meet­ing last week, Ce­cil Col­lege’s board of trus­tees passed a res­o­lu­tion to award a $240,497 con­tract to Lee Hartman & Sons Inc., of Bal­ti­more, to re­place the ag­ing sys­tem. In­stal­la­tion of the new sys­tem will start shortly af­ter the the­ater’s pro­duc­tion of “Amer­i­can Id­iot” wraps up on June 19 and fin­ish be­fore the the­ater’s pro­duc­tion of “A Few Good Men” takes the stage on Aug. 5, said Bob Den­ton, the the­ater’s tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor.

“It’s been needed to be re­placed for a while,” Den­ton said of the sound sys­tem. “It’s as old as the the­ater, and I be­lieve some of the the­ater equip­ment was used when it was in­stalled.”

Fund­ing for the new sound sys­tem comes from a fundrais­ing ef­fort started last fall by the the­ater and the Ce­cil Col­lege Foun­da­tion. The ef­fort, dubbed “Save Our Sound,” raised a to­tal of $100,000 so far, said Adam Kam­ras, Ce­cil Col­lege spokesman.

Of that amount, $50,000 came in the form of a grant from the United States De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture’s ru­ral devel­op­ment pro­gram and the rest came from pri­vate do­na­tions, Kam­ras said. The foun­da­tion is work­ing with the the­ater on other fundrais­ing ini­tia­tives to raise the re­main­ing $140,000 for the sound sys­tem. The “Save Our Sound” cam­paign will con­tinue through Oc­to­ber 2016, Kam­ras added.

The cur­rent sound sys­tem has got­ten a lot of use over the years. With the the­ater do­ing so many shows, it can be dif­fi­cult to find time to do reg­u­lar main­te­nance, Den­ton said. In ad­di­tion, when ac­tors have mul­ti­ple cos­tume changes in a show, the mi­cro­phones get pulled off one out­fit and put on another quite fre­quently, caus­ing a lot of wear and tear, he added.

Along with the newer equip­ment, the re­place­ment sound sys­tem will also come with some up­dates such as a soft­ware sys­tem that will al­low the sound en­gi­neer to go out into the au­di­ence with an iPad to ad­just sound lev­els in­stead of mak­ing ad­just­ments from the booth, Den­ton said. As part of the project, the the­ater will also in­stall a pair of video mon­i­tors fac­ing the stage so the ac­tors can see the con­duc­tor bet­ter when a show has an or­ches­tra, he added.

“We’re try­ing to get the the­ater up to cur­rent in­dus­try stan­dards,” Den­ton noted.

The sound sys­tem project is one of the many pro­posed up­grades to the the­ater in­cluded in the col­lege’s 20162016 Cam­pus Master Plan, which the board of trus­tees ap­proved in Fe­bru­ary. Along with the sound sys­tem, the plan also calls for ren­o­va­tions that would ad­dress sev­eral prob­lems with the cur­rent space, in­clud­ing the cramped lobby, small re­strooms and the lo­ca­tion of the ticket win­dow.

To ad­dress these prob- lems, the master plan pro­poses push­ing out the the­ater’s outer lobby wall to cre­ate a larger lobby and adding a ticket win­dow so peo­ple wouldn’t have to come inside the the­ater to pick up tick­ets. The art gallery cur­rently in the the­ater build­ing would also be moved to another build­ing, al­low­ing the bath­rooms to be ex­panded.

But though there’s no set date for when these more ex­ten­sive ren­o­va­tions might take place, the­ater pa­trons will hear the ef­fects of the new sound sys­tem as early as the fall. Not only will the new sound sys­tem make for a bet­ter the­ater-go­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, it will also al­low the the­ater to host a greater va­ri­ety of shows and col­lege events, Den­ton said.

“I feel like it’s go­ing to help us bet­ter serve the com­mu­nity,” he said.

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